Frank Vassallo

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Mro. Frank Vassallo was born in Sliema on 3 July 1924 of Carmelo Vassallo and Theresa Doneo. His maternal grandfather was Mro. Carmelo Doneo, a Military Bandmaster, who also helped to set up various band clubs in Malta, like La Vittoria Band Club in Mellieħa and St Joseph Band Club in Ħamrun. Mro Vassallo started his musical studies at the age of six with his uncle Emidio Doneo. At 10 years of age he started violin studies with Anthony Mamo, a renowned Virtuoso violinist and teacher. On 23 May 1948 Frank Vassallo married Theresa Theuma and they had two children, Marie Therese Vassallo and Pierre.

Among his many musical activities, Frank Vassallo’s favourite occupations were always teaching and composition. He was an Associate Member of the Performing Right Society of London, as a composer. He composed various works for String, Woodwind, Brass instruments, Pianoforte and Voices, as solo works and also in all kinds of combinations like Duets, Trios, Quartets, Quintets and Octets. He also composed symphonies for both big and small orchestras, Chamber works, Oratorios, Songs about both Sacred and profane subjects, two Requiem Masses among several other masses and other sacred music. Among his other works are divertimenti and studies for various instruments. An outstanding work by Vassallo is his Sonata in G for Harp.

Several of Mro. Vassallo’s works have been published in Malta, England, Italy, France and the USA, by Lucia Publishing Co. (1946), Keith Prowse Publishing Co. Ltd, (London), Peter Morris of Milan and El Brios Publishing Co. (Firenze). Two of his songs Con Gioco and Mon Amour Parisien are performed regularly on French and Italian television and radio stations. One of his guitar books has been published by Charnwood Musical Publishing Co. of London and is used as part of the syllabus of the Leicester School of Music in their examinations.

In 1974 Mro Vassallo wrote the Innu March Lill-Madonna Tal-Karmnu, which was an instant success and is still played by all the visiting bands every year for the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. The lyrics were written by his daughter, Marie Therese Vassallo.

Mro Vassallo is the father of well-known mezzo-soprano Marie Therese Vassallo and Dr Pierre Vassallo, a Consultant radiologist, who is also a keen musician.

Mro Vassallo spent most of his life teaching and composing music. Besides teaching privately, he was also a Music teacher and Orchestra director at St Edward’s College and at St Aloysious College.

On 10 January 2000 the Malta Cultural Institute presented an evening dedicated to his music in the Grand Concert Hall of Le Meridien Phoenicia Hotel. Mro Vassallo himself was present and was given a standing ovation by the large audience present. He passed away exactly four weeks later, on 7 February 2000. During the Malta Cultural Institute concert, to be held tomorrow, many of the works will be premier performances. Excerpts from Vassallo’s Chamber works will be played by advanced musicians from the University Junior College Orchestra, under the guidance of Manoel Pirotta. Pianist Maria-Elena Farrugia, clarinettist Massimo Borg, violinists David Ellul and Miguel Rosales, saxophonist Mark-Anthony Sammut and flutists Laura Cioffi, Clara Galea and Kevin Azzopardi will be performing.

A highlight of the evening will be Sonata in G major for Harp, in three movements, which will be played by renowned harpist and pianist Lydia Buttigieg.

The vocal part of the programme will involve the soloists and choir of the Marie Therese Vassallo Voice Studio. Soprano Joan Camilleri, mezzo-sopranos Marie Therese Vassallo and Rita Scicluna and contralto Miriam Camilleri will be accompanied by pianists Maria Scicluna and Rita Paris. A special work performed by the choir will be Pawlu F’ Malta, which will be premiered on the night.